Revolutionary Fly-by-Wire Helicopter Promises Takeoff With a Touchscreen Swipe

Revolutionary Fly-by-Wire Helicopter Promises Takeoff With a Touchscreen Swipe

Skyryse has unveiled the world’s first production fly-by-wire helicopter. The startup’s Skyryse One helicopter is operated with a single control stick and a pair of touchscreens. The transformative control system aims to make operating rotorcraft simpler and safer. According to the Federal Aviation Administration, there was a fatal helicopter accident every 20 days on average in 2023. If Skyryse’s reinvention of the helicopter is as good as advertised, it could dramatically reduce the number of people killed in crashes.

The innovative helicopter is underpinned by SkyOS, a proprietary operating system running the highly-automated controls. The operating system translates the pilot’s inputs, along with environmental conditions and flight parameters, into four-axis flight. I cannot overstate how ambitious it is to distill the traditional cyclic, collective, pedals and throttle down to a joystick and two touchscreens.

Image: Skyryse

The Skyryse One’s startup procedure is a simple swipe right on a touchscreen. The helicopter has several other powerful automated functions engaged through the displays, like auto-pickup and setdown. Yes, a pilot could take off and land by swiping the touchscreen if desired. In a statement, Skyryse CEO Dr. Mark Groden said:

“The Skyryse One might look familiar on the outside, but the similarities to any other aircraft end there. Since the invention of vertical flight, pilots have juggled four controls simultaneously, using both hands and both feet just to keep it airborne. Until today.”

Skyryse isn’t selling an autonomous helicopter but an IFR-rated rotorcraft with an expansive suite of automated features. SkyOS keeps the Skyryse One stable and can maintain a safe flight envelope on its own, allowing the pilot to let go of the controls if needed. Autorotation is also fully automated with the operating system able to recognize when a power failure happens. The fly-by-wire system is triple-redundant to safeguard against any potential failure.

Skyryse says the system is “aircraft agnostic” and can be fitted to plans or other rotorcraft.

The Skyryse One will be available for $US1.8 million to customers who place a fully refundable $US2,500 reservation. The price looks steep compared to the very similar-looking Robinson R44 Raven II, available for around $US470,000. However, the fly-by-wire system could genuinely be worth the price if it works.

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